Maybe I’m the only one, but due to my inability (read lack of talent!) to pursue dancing myself, I am mesmerized by those who can do so, especially ballerinas. I recently watched Misty Copeland’s A Ballerina’s Tale and follow all the major ballet companies on Instagram to gush over each dancer’s grace and artistry. So it comes as no surprise that I found myself reading a book about a Russian ballerina.
Daphne Kalotay’s debut novel Russian Winter focuses on both the past and present of Nina Revskaya. When we first meet Nina she is hunched and aging, being tended to by a visiting nurse as she passes her days in a wheelchair in her apartment overlooking the Boston Public Gardens. Nina has decided that it is time to start letting go of her belongings as her condition worsens and begins working with a young auctioneer named Drew to sell off her much heralded jewelry collection. As a former world renowned ballerina, she has come to acquire some truly magnificent pieces, especially a unique amber set that survived her defection from Stalin-era Russia.
Through her own flashbacks and that of an oddly intertwined character by the name of Grigori Solodin, we come to find out these amber pieces have quite the story to tell. The book switches between the past and present to lead you to the true meaning behind the jewelry . This is done somewhat jerkily, with not much of a proper transition between the two worlds. While a bit irritating, I found myself getting use to this somewhere in the middle of the book. The book did do a nice job though of intertwining history, romance, and other themes quite well.
While overall I did enjoy this book, be prepared. The ending is not what you will be looking for. At least for me it wasn’t. Not that there is a twist, but rather a lack of an actual ending at all. This book could have gotten a better rating from me if it didn’t just… stop. No cliffhanger, just , the end. If this book would have given me five more pages, It would have gotten a full 4 out of 5. But, 3 1/2 stars it is because a great story was killed by the author’s inability to round out her book with a strong ending.